Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Brotherhood of St Lawrence snap shot of youth unemployment - New England

Towards the end of March, the Brotherhood of St Lawrence released a national snap shot of youth unemployment.

More than 264,000 young people aged 15 to 24 are currently unemployed across the country, accounting for more than a third (36 per cent) of unemployed people in Australia. The latest ABS data show the unemployment rate of 15–24 year olds in the labour force is much  higher than the unemployment rate for all ages. The youth unemployment rate in January 2018 of 12.2 per cent was more than twice the overall rate of 5.5 per cent, and three times the rate of those aged 25 and over (4.1 per cent)  The rate of 12.2 per cent, however, has come off the recent peak of 2014, when the youth unemployment rate reached almost 14 per cent. Nevertheless, youth unemployment is still well above the levels before the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC).

A Regional Focus

The report maps youth unemployment trends, zeroing in on 12-month averages to identify 20 ‘hotspots’ that have the highest youth unemployment rates in Australia. Comparing their current youth unemployment rates with two years ago reveals that in all but one of those hotspot regions youth unemployment had worsened.

In five regions, all outside capital cities, unemployment among 15 to 24 year olds in the labour force exceeds 20 per cent. Youth unemployment is at its extreme – more than 65 per cent – in a thinly populated but vast tract of land in the Queensland outback, encompassing Cape York as well as the mining centres of Mount Isa and Weipa.

Conversely, in the 20 regions with the lowest youth unemployment rates in 2018, all but two
recorded lower rates today than two years ago. Fourteen of these 20 regions are in capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin.

The differences in youth unemployment trends between the low and high unemployment regions highlight the disparities between local labour markets. Place matters. In responding to the challenge of youth unemployment, it is important to understand distinctive features of local labour markets and develop local approaches to foster economic development and job opportunities for young people.

New England Position 

Two New England regions were listed in the 20 worst hot spots. Coffs Harbour - Grafton came in at 6 with a youth unemployment rate of 19.8% in January 2018, up from 9.4%  in January 2106 or by 10.4 percentage points. The second region, New England Northwest was at 16 with an  unemployment rate of 16.6%, down from 17.8% in January 2016, giving an improvement of 1.2 percentage points.

As an aside, I struggle with the idea that Coffs and Grafton in some way form a region. It doesn't make a great deal of geographic sense.

None of the twenty best regions are to be found in New England.

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